Anyone know what causes that "70's smell" from hot electronics from that era?

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I doubt the formaldehyde is the main odor...as it is quite volatile and will off-gas fairly rapidly. Phenol, the other chemical used to make Bakelite, however has a much lower vapor pressure, but a relatively persistent pungent "burnt school paste" smell.... and it (or it's decomposition products) usually accounts for the "burnt electrical" smell from all the cheap toasters, electronics, motors, etc.

If the boards are fiberglass/epoxy resins, then you'd be smelling the accelerators and hardeners used in their manufacturing, which also tend to be pungent and persistent, especially when exposed to heat or electrical stress.
 
Cheap phenolic circuit boards commonly used in consumer electronics have a characteristic odor, especially when they warm up. I suspect also that it's the phenol in the mix that makes for the distinctive smell. If it was formaldehyde, your classic amplifier would smell like a mortuary... The phenolic boards are usually dark brown or a graham-cracker color. Epoxy-glass or epoxy-paper laminates usually will not have a strong smell unless they're really heated up,
 
I have a Toshiba turntable from the late 70's. Works great now that I replaced the capacitors in the servo drive.
Hey, I did the same in a Micro 711 - early seventies
Two circular PCBs, one anular! :tongue::hug:

Edit: To take over the speed drift, I had to remove all the connectors, make the wire to pots shorter
Still, if it's not me using it, it starts with some problems - Me thinks some problems in the motor wiring when/where the first two seconds are crucial to put the mass in speed for rotation; it happened also with the thorens TD 160 where the belt use to slip if not accompanied at start :eek::rolleyes:
 
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In the service shop we could tell the make of the test equipment by their smell. Tektronix, Hewlett Packard, Wavetek - each had its distinct smell, especially when new.
Right indeed!
Smells from Technics and Panasonic are the same (both Matshusita), but differs from Sony. And these from Luxman, Pioneer, all distinctive. The NAD I recently resurrected was almost odeurless, a bit dull. My Thorens TD160 has stopped breathing altogether, but the tube from the SME3 tonearm is unique.
Bought a solderstrip recently. Sniffing and back in memory lane.
 
Military electronics may have gotten the distinctive smell from the anti-fungal conformal coat used on the boards. It's nasty to solder through when you're repairing boards or parting them out, as I found out when stripping some sonobuoy circuit boards. The conformal coat is pinkish when fresh.
 
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Hey, I did the same in a Micro 711 - early seventies
Two circular PCBs, one anular! :tongue::hug:

Edit: To take over the speed drift, I had to remove all the connectors, make the wire to pots shorter
Still, if it's not me using it, it starts with some problems - Me thinks some problems in the motor wiring when/where the first two seconds are crucial to put the mass in speed for rotation; it happened also with the thorens TD 160 where the belt use to slip if not accompanied at start :eek::rolleyes:

This one was direct drive. I also added 78 RPM :)
 
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